City Council has approved installation of seven surveillance cameras at Flanigan and Memorial parks, with hoped-for crimefighting dividends for the City of Williamsport.
A lot of debate and detail work came before council's 5-1 approval of the camera installation bid, but the value of the cameras cannot possibly be determined until they are being used.
In the meantime, there are concerns about where the cameras aren't located - such as the East End and the Newberry sections of the city. Mayor Gabriel J. Campana promised to seek federal grant funding for more cameras in the East End and there is a plan to possibly add three cameras at Newberry Park.
There are concerns about how well the cameras actually will work in helping police fight crime in Williamsport. To that end, City Councilwoman Liz Miele correctly asked for police documentation that the cameras are doing what they were intended to do.
There were concerns about the big government implications of camera installation from Councilman Jonathan Williamson, who cast the lone dissenting vote against the bid.
His concerns are understandable, but we compare it to the government's involvement in airline safety. Those security processes at airports are certainly an intrusion on our privacy, but if we want the larger concern of safety on an airplane answered, we have to be willing to concede some privacy.
At the end of the day, whether this is the right thing for Williamsport will be determined by the day-to-day success of the cameras in preventing and solving crimes. To that end, council should demand firm documentation of how the cameras are working.
But it's hard to argue against at least trying the cameras, given the documented crime trouble spots Williamsport has that keep the city from being as safe as it could and should be.